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4/09/15-

Dear Tom,

My cousin Lena is a proud Howard university alum who got her Ph.D. at Yale and is a professor of English and African American studies at the University of Iowa.  She is also an author of 2 books: “Visualizing Blackness” and “Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man” – which she co-wrote with her husband Michael.

But what Lena is most proud of is her two children: Caitlyn and Michael Carl (ages 12 & 7).  Both of her babies were born with sickle cell anemia – and needless to say, it has created some serious challenges over the past few years.

Lena has spent many days, nights & weekends at the St. Louis children’s hospital.  Caitlyn was admitted to their sickle cell disease program after suffering several strokes.  She had multiple blood transfusions, underwent chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant that cured her of SickleCell!

More recently, Michael began to suffer strokes, too.  The doctors found there was lack of blood circulation to some areas of his brain.  They are considering neurosurgery to repair blood flow until a match is found on the bone marrow registry that will hopefully cure him, too.

Lena has been a pillar of strength and an amazing example of faith as she continues to work, care for her family and make sure that her children get to enjoy their childhoods in spite of their illness.  She is a true inspiration that helps me and others keep things in perspective, and most importantly – not to sweat the small stuff.

I don’t know what she would do with $1000 but i do know that the last time she won something was when she attended Howard…it was a raffle and the prize was a cordless phone.

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